If you have ever driven in or near a city, you know traffic sucks. Something always gets gummed up. Whether it’s a remarkably slow driver in the carpool lane, a sea of orange barrels or a fender bender in the middle of the busiest road in the city, traffic manages to come to a standstill. Even worse, it seems every time you need to get somewhere in a hurry, you hit that improbable traffic jam in the middle of the day that makes you even later than you would have been in the first place.
You can think of your business like a busy road. There are so many places you can go, so many ways to expand, yet the minor little hold ups—the traffic jams—keep you from getting to those places. Your business has an opportunity to expand and grow, even go global thanks to the beauty of the Internet, yet the minor things hold you back. Fortunately, there are detours around these problems. Have you ever sat in a traffic jam and imagined you were in a helicopter zipping right along the standstill traffic? Think of these things like that: a way to let you get to where you want to be without having other things hold you back.
Ask the right questions
Expanding isn’t some offhand task. To do it right takes planning, research, time and effort. It requires running your business in the day-to-day while still planning to expand. Whether you’re looking to get into other markets in your business or just expand where you do business, there are some important questions to ask. First, is the market even big enough? Markets can become saturated and that will leave you in an even more competitive market than you’re already in. Make sure you stand a chance at competing with some larger companies before you dive in headfirst. Second, think of the legal implications. Just like maximum speed limits vary by state, every country—every state, even—has its own rules and regulations when it comes to business. You have to watch what you do carefully or you can get caught in a speed trap. Finally, can you afford great the talent you’ll need in order to expand the way you need to? Talent doesn’t come cheap, even in a weak economy. To have the appropriate people in the right places to help you grow and succeed the way you need to, you’ll have to put up the right kind of money for them.
Streamline the right things
There are plenty of things you do in your business every day that distract you from other tasks, like working on expansion or finding new clients. These things are necessary for a business to succeed, but you know your time is better spent working on ways to make your business more successful. The things that take up the bulk of your time, like taxes, payroll and IT fixes, are a lot like potholes in the road; they slow you down. However, there are easy ways to make the road a lot smoother. Some of these are applications that can make your business more global simply by implementing the Internet. Others are services that can take care of a variety of payroll tasks, freeing you up to work on the other important aspects of your business.
Know who you are
Finally, and it may seem intuitive, is to know your business inside and out. There are lots of sayings like “don’t grow too fast” that apply to businesses. It’s important to know that you’re ready to expand the business. Make sure your mission is a vital part of your growth. Don’t grow for the sake of growing; rather, grow for your mission. Ensure the framework you’ve laid for your business is sturdy enough to handle an expansion and that you have the right people to help you get where you need to go. Even the most perfectly planned roads can still become loaded with potholes and other problems. Plan your route and have detours available in case something gets in your way.
Sometimes, traffic can be a good thing. It can keep you from going too fast and arriving at your destination before you’re ready. Just keep in mind the most successful companies got that way by making deliberate, well-timed decisions about their growth. As you plot the future of your company, ask good questions, identify tools that can take busy work out of your hands and always remember why you started the business in the first place.